Hi everyone! My name is Emily Dolegowski and I am the Gil Internship Manager. This week, I had the pleasure of visiting CareYaya, a home healthcare start-up that connects pre-health/pre-professional university students with elders in need of a personal aide. Their free platform helps families in need find passionate caregivers who are able to provide their services at an affordable rate.
CareYaya’s office is located in Research Triangle Park, where they share a space with several other local startups. Upon my arrival, I was greeted by Neal Shah, the CEO, and Natalie Tuinstra, CareYaya’s current Gil intern. This semester, Natalie is completing an industrial-organizational psychology internship at CareYaya. As part of her internship, she identified a need for more caregiver training. Through their research, Neal and Natalie had the idea to create a virtual reality-based caregiver training to improve the abilities, empathy, and confidence of CareYaya’s caregivers.
After touring their beautiful office space, Natalie explained her work plan for the day. She and Neal had an upcoming meeting with faculty from Santa Clara University. While researching options for their virtual reality caregiver training, Natalie found an article from just a couple days prior detailing a similar project underway at Santa Clara University. Natalie reached out to faculty and quickly heard back; both parties were eager to schedule a meeting to discuss the technology further.
During my visit, I had the opportunity to listen in on their meeting and hear about the amazing potential for a partnership between Santa Clara University and CareYaya. Both parties demonstrated their passion for the elderly population and providing the best quality care. They discussed CareYaya piloting the technology and potential funding options. Additionally, the topic of software accessibility was of high importance to the meeting; since CareYaya’s mission emphasizes sustainability and equity, they needed to consider this factor in piloting virtual reality training. Thankfully, the technology that Santa Clara University has created is available not only on Oculus, but also mobile devices, making it much more accessible to all.
I was incredibly impressed in the short time I spent at CareYaya’s office this week. Natalie’s quick action to reach out to Santa Clara University could potentially revolutionize CareYaya’s training modules, which could lead to a ripple-effect and improve the care provided to countless elders. Neal’s willingness to hear her ideas and make improvements demonstrates the company’s true dedication to their mission and the wellbeing of the population they serve. The Gil team is so excited to see what comes of this project!